Best Day of the Year

added 4/6/2009 by Scott Barzilla

We've spent the entire spring talking about the positives and negatives of the club this year. We've talked about the holes and who could break out this year. It's time to take a break from the analysis and just sit back and enjoy. Today is a day for cooking burgers or steaks on the grill and permanently attaching yourself to the sofa or recliner. Some love March Madness and that's fine, but for my money there is no better day than today.

Leave it to Bud Selig to try to take as much juice out of Opening Day as he possibly could. He's played in Japan, China, and probably will try the moon in future seasons. We can all harken back to the good ol' days when the first game was in Cincinnati every year without fail. Of course, no talk of baseball in general is complete without a shot at the so-called commissioner (or idiot in chief).

The call this year is the same as it has been the past few years. Opening Day should all be on the same day (Monday) and it should be a national holiday. The parallels between baseball and Spring and baseball and Easter are clear. Each season brings forth with it new hope and there is no better thing for us now than hope. For baseball fans, the memories of their club's playoff chances dying in the fall are a distant memory. In the same way, those that celebrate Easter or the coming of the new season can turn the page on what has been a crummy twelve to eighteen months.

The beauty of opening day does not end after the game. This is where March Madness loses us. When our alma mater gets beat, the cinderella story is over. For us here, the games will continue after the first win or loss. Those hopes will survive through at least the first month or two. Thank God for the Tampa Bay Rays because now all teams have hope. The same can't be said for the NBA and for all of March Madness' storybook lines, some schools know they will never get in. The hometown Cougars haven't been in since the Phi Slamma Jamma days.

So, why should Opening Day be a holiday? It's like the beginning of a new year. We should allow people to pause and renew their energy and perspective. The NFL always plays on Sunday. There is no need for a holiday. The NBA's schedule is always so scattered, so there is no need. Yet, almost every team is opening up their season today. Even if they aren't, there are enough games on television to throw the fan into paralysis.

Of course, non-fans may not want to watch the action, but there is plenty to do outside. This is the other beauty of the holiday. Parents can take their kids to the park or they could put them in the car and take them to the downtown park right across from the convention center. Heck, a national holiday would be good for the economy. Sports bars, restaurants, grocery stores, and other establishments would get a nice boost. It's all about the economy these days.

Naturally, the counterargument would point to Good Friday and Easter as two holidays in one week would be hard to sustain. Well, as we know, the Easter holiday fluctuates from year to year, so it usually will not fall on the same week as Opening Day. Besides, consider productivity. How much work do you think is going to get done today in the average cubicle? It's the same amount that happens on the first day of the NCAA tournament.

For me, there is always one day in the season where I stop talking win shares, replacement levels, and OPS and this on this day. While I fancy myself a writer, no one can compare to the quote from J.D. Salinger in the book version of Field of Dreams. Yes, I know it was Terence Mann in the movie, but America really needs to get back to books.

"Ray, people will come Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won't mind if you look around, you'll say. It's only $20 per person. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they'll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come."

Enjoy the day, everyone.